Bleak Rock Hold, deep within the Ashwood
The 6th day of Pharast, 4712 AR – seven hours before dawn
Timeon “Black Dog” Morag hurried through the snow, moving as quickly as both the darkness and his heavy armor would allow. He spied a cluster of his men standing in the shadows just ahead, and angled towards them.
“Horvath? Is that you? To arms, man. Quickly!”
“What is it, Captain? An attack? Have those bloody orcs finally—”
“Still your tongue, fool. Roust the men. Gather whatever you can carry, and prepare to march the lads out of this place.”
“Aye, Captain.” Horvath Red-Nose gestured to the two soldiers standing with him. They sped off into the night to do as they were bade, and then Horvath turned once more to his commander.
“What is it, Timeon? Are we betrayed?”
“I know not.” Timeon turned a worried eye to the surrounding shadows. “A fell beast has been awakened, and we dare not face it. Now go! Ride south as soon as the ranks and formed. Do not wait for the slower men. We must—-”
Both men paused then as a deafening, monstrous roar shook the night. The sound came from the north, towards Bleak Rock Hold. Then there was another horrid roar, louder this time, and seemingly closer. Within moments both mercenary guardsmen men had fled into the night, keen on rejoining their men for the long, desperate march away from this place. Behind them the first sounds of desperate battle came, strident and quick. Neither saw any reason by that point to slacken his pace.
“Quickly! We haven’t much time!”
Kymrych grasped the heavy oaken barrel tightly, and muscled it up and over his head. He then stalked to the edge of the parapet, and hurled the oil cask over. It tumbled end over end, falling quickly, and shattered with a loud crack as it hit the paving stones below. A thick slurry of oil oozed outward, coating the flagstones below with a glistening sheen.
“Here’s another.” Nadine touched another barrel, and it silently floated upward, now apparently weightless. Talathel then pushed it gently over to the wall, where the healer let the charm fade. The barrel tumbled down into the courtyard below, and shattered as well. Onward the work continued, endlessly. Desperation fueled their every move.
“Onward, men! For Glory and Honor!” Paralictor Naveen Kolibri spurred his mount onward, and led his Hellknight cavalry into battle.
The cold wind tore at his cloak, and brought chill tears to his eyes. His lance dipped low, and and he urged his steed onward, towards the lumbering mountain-thing that even now was ripping his pickets to pieces. Men screamed, and the demon bellowed. Behind him rode fifty mounted Hellknight lancers, all armored and equipped for battle. He was perhaps one hundred yards from the approaching creature when there was a flash of light before him, and a tall, lithe figure appeared in the darkness ahead.
No! His mind screamed in defiance as the babau demon reached up and plucked him from the saddle like a piece of overripe fruit. Claws flashed, and gore spurted. The Paralictor took a long time to die, and his screams echoed far, far into the night.
Eiko felt sick in the pit of her stomach as those first demons appeared in a flash of crimson light. They were emaciated figures that looked like horned human skeletons smothered within a bone-tight hide of slimy leather – babau demons, straight from the very pits of Hell. Men screamed and died as the demons tore into them. Others died as the lumbering mountain-beast entered the outer reaches of the Korvosan camp; many of the soldiers were already fleeing, she saw, but not all. Those who stayed fought and died as the demons – and the Chaos Beast – ripped into them with wild abandon.
“Just don’t stand there, Eiko. We need to turn the beast aside, and lure it back into the castle.” She had not heard Akorian’s approach, and started a bit as he spoke. Then the Chelish mage raised his hands, and intoned mighty words of power. A roaring flash of heat and light engulfed the Chaos Beast, searing its flesh – and then it moved on, seemingly unaffected. Variel next ensorcelled his bow, and sent flaming arrows to pierce the undead thing’s putrid flesh. Albia merely stood nearby, mute, as they attacked. It was then that Eiko first realized that the Hellknight did not carry a bow, and found herself wondering why.
Then she shook herself, and found a way to gather her courage. Nodding to Akorian, she dashed off into the night, skirting torn down tents, and mounds of mutilated bodies. A babau turned on her, snarling and spitting, and then seemed to recognized her somehow. Its eyes were depthless pools of blazing crimson as it turned to gaze upon her, and then it vanished amidst a puff of foul brimstone. Eiko readied her bow, and approached the lumbering Chaos Demon from the side. There she got her first close look at the thing since that horrible first glimpse she had suffered back in the keep.
Writhing, snarling orc faces peer out at the world, howling their bitterness. For a moment Eiko cannot move as before, for one of those same faces is clearly not orcish at all, but dwarvish. Luckily for her she cannot quite make out the details of Igmar’s transformation at this distance. Standing now, she draws back, settles in, and looses. Her arrow lodges in the creature’s hide with a solid THUD. She is just reaching for another arrow in her quiver when the sound of approaching hooves comes to her in the snow-swept darkness.
Eiko rolls to one side, and casts aside her bow as the mounted rider thunders past. Her lance misses Eiko’s head by scant inches. The rider clatters by, shouting in fury, before wheeling about, and making another run. Eiko draws her shining blade, and steps aside adroitly, and slices her stallion’s belly open in passing.
Bright crimson gore spurts far and wide, and steams in the chill night air. The horse collapses in mid-stride, and its rider tumbles face-first into the snow. Eiko leaps forward and lands at the side of the stunned rider, and adroitly places her blade at the throat of Lance-Captain Lucrecia Doldenis, knight-commander of Korvosan Guardsmen assigned to the army. Her eyes are filled with terror.
“Traitors! Murders! You’ve brought this down upon us! This evil is your doing!” Lucrecia spits.
“Perhaps.” Eiko steps back, and removes her blade from the panicked commander’s throat. “But whatever the truth, you must flee this place. Take your men, and go.”
Lucrecia stares at Eiko with incredulity, and then blinks in surprise as the young Varisian woman simply melts into the night, and is seen no more.
Variel, Akorian and Albia stalk amongst the litter of battle, struggling to keep up with the lumbering titan. Dead and dying men lay at their feet; the summoned demons have disappeared, you see. The army is scattered, and the creature denied its sustenance. Albia pauses a moment when she spies Doma Ventris huddled on the ground nearby, laying in a pool of her own blood. Her body is mangled and torn, suggesting a demon got to her rather than the undead titan. The look of ecstasy upon her blood-smeared features says something of her demise, however. But for the moment Albia cannot say what that is.
“The bloody thing is ignoring us.” Akorian sends off the last of his fireball spells, and watches as it detonates impotently upon the hide of the towering creature. “What in the Hells are we going to do now?”
“At least it no longer has the army to feed on.” Variel launches the last of his arrows, and then pauses a moment to watch the lumbering beast. “Perhaps we should just withdraw, and await the inevitable.”
“Yes, Master Variel. Perhaps you are right.” Albia climbs up on an upended oxcart, and watches as the undead creature wanders off towards the nearby forest. A trail of wreckage and mayhem can be seen behind it, like the spoor of some titanic disaster.
Dawn: the skies have cleared, and wan sunlight filters in as the morning sky is tinted in vivid shades of crimson and gold. The air is warming, and night-birds can be heard chirping their final songs of longing and hardship. Other birds – carrion feeders – have begun to gather, and feast on the bodies of the fallen. At the moment you and the other members of the Night Swords have the former battlefield all to yourselves – save for the dead, of course. You find the putrid remains of the charnel beast at the edge of the forest, silent now, and slowly separating into its component pieces now that the Cult of Rovagug’s plot to birth madness unto the world has failed utterly.
Of those who led the army, you have so far found the bodies of Arthraxis and Naveen Kolibri, as well as the shredded remains of Doma Ventris. Lucrecia Doldenis is nowhere to be found either, although flitting shadows in the nearby woods suggest that many of the soldiers who formed the army are still close, even if they have been scattered to the four winds. A quick head count suggests that perhaps eighty men died during the preceding hours, many fewer than most of you feared.
Iacobus and Kala emerge from the trees shortly after the morning sun makes its first appearance. Iacobus seems very unhappy to see Kyras, while the priest does not seem to care about the elder Sarani brother one way or the other. Now, with the group reunited, you look forward to the future, and the boundless opportunities it holds.
Laniss Sparrowhunter arrives shortly after dawn as well, and tells Talathel it is time to go. The bard refuses, and tells her he has no interest in traveling with her. The elven warder scowls at his words, and the slight insult he offers her by speaking them in Taldane, and not his parent tongue. Then she melts back into the forest, and you do not see her again.
For his part Kyras thanks you all for what you have done. The threat of the Doom Child is ended, and the dire Prophecy of Rovagug has been averted. He elects to stay here, however, and make sure no lingering vestiges of evil remain.